Bill to benefit veterans’ surviving spouses advances

TRENTON – A Senate panel unanimously released legislation that would benefit surviving spouses of severely disabled veterans.

The bill, S1549, would require the $750 annual compensation payment for a surviving spouse of a blind or severely disabled wartime veteran to begin from the date of the veteran’s death, regardless of when the surviving spouse filed the benefit application, according to the legislation.

The benefit first became available to surviving spouses in April 1985.

According to the bill, spouses who never received the benefit and were married to a veteran who died before April 1985 could apply for the benefit now and receive the compensation.

Presently, spouses are only eligible for the benefit from the date of the application, which, proponents of the bill argue, is sometimes filled out years after the soldier’s death.

The bill was released from the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously with no discussion.

“It should go through unanimously,” said Sen. James Beach, (D-6), chairman of the committee, referring to a vote by the full Senate.

“Anything we can do to support our veterans and their families is a good thing,” he said.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Christopher Connors, (R-9), Forked River.

Bill to benefit veterans’ surviving spouses advances